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Kufa (kōˈfə) [key], former Mesopotamian city, near the Euphrates River, c.110 mi (177 km) S of Baghdad. Founded in 638, Kufa soon rivaled Basra in size. The Arab governor of Iraq resided there until 702. For a time, Kufa was the seat of the Abbasid caliphate, and Ali, the fourth caliph, was murdered there. Celebrated as a major seat of Arab learning, the city was also a continual source of political and religious unrest. It was repeatedly plundered by the Karmathians in the 10th cent. and lost its importance. Kufa now remains an uninhabited ruin surrounded by desert.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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